Saturday, October 22, 2011

SAR #11293

The US bails out Europe, then something, something... happily ever after.

Promises, Promises: After more than a week of promising that the sun would shine 'tomorrow', tomorrow never came, but maybe next Wednesday. The haircut (called 'private sector involvement') for Greek bondholders has grown to 60% ( €252 billion). The market, of course, went up.

Wise Guys: The FBI says there are about 1.4 million gang members in the US, and that they are now engaging in white collar crimes such as identity theft, counterfeiting, selling stolen goods and even bank, credit card and mortgage fraud, because “the likelihood of being caught is less, the sentences once you are caught are less, and the actual monetary gain is much higher.” Just ask a Wall Street banker.

Let's Make A Deal: Wannabe Rick Santorum says he would be willing to “die” in the fight against marriage equality. I don't think it'll work but I'm willing to let him try.

Revision:  The US Senate is revising the nation's visa application and approval process to insure that any foreigner who buys an expensive house in the US can get a visa to live in it. Too late for Muammar Gaddafi, but Manuel Noriega is delighted.

Your Turn: How, in the midst massive unemployment, did the deficit become the most important issue in the nation? And why, given the overwhelming evidence that austerity measures raise unemployment and hinder economic growth, are budget cuts the main preoccupation of politicians? Who is pushing austerity, and why? Will there be a special place in hell for them?

Air Power: In an attempt to do less harm to the environment while blowing things up and killing people, the Air Force is using biofuels to power F-16s.

Take the Money and Run:  If your bank is going to charge you a monthly fee just to have a debit card, find a smaller local bank that doesn't. Ditto if your bank suddenly invents fees for what used to be basic services. If your current bank wants to charge you a “termination fee”, pay it and leave, it will be one of the best investments you can make. Don't wait – the big banks know it will be inconvenient. They're banking on it. 

Asked & Answered:  “Why hasn’t the US taken steps to curtail carbon emissions?”  Mainly because the polluters have bought enough politicians to ensure an unbreakable filibuster of any effective action.  Another case of minority rule.

Just So:  “Wall Street is like the mafia…”

Always the Low Price Wages, Always: Walmart employees working less than 24 hours a week will no longer be able to get health insurance through the company. Those working 24 – 33 hours weekly will no longer be able to have their spouse on the plan. Full time employees (34 or more hours) will pay up to 40% more for their coverage. Employees who smoke will pay an additional $90 a pay-period. The company said that ever-rising premiums were the reason for the increases. Nationwide in 2011, the annual premiums for an average family's health care coverage is up 9% to more than $15,000 – more than the after-tax income of a minimum wage earner working 40 hours a week.

Semaphore:  The politicians in Alberta, Canada – home to the oil sands environmental disaster – claim that the EU’s plans to categorize oil from oil sands “a highly polluting fuel” is unfair.  Accurate, but unfair.

Convenience: A lot of folks who think they don't have any obligation to the less fortunate are happy to embrace the current GOP mantra that blames the unemployed for being unemployed. No cognitive dissonance for them – and very little social conscience, either.

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